From the studio’s ongoing efforts to cast up big-ticket films like Akira, All You Need Is Kill, Arthur & Lancelot, Man From UNCLE, Xerxes, Imitation Game and The Twilight Zone, Warner Bros continues to be a go-to place for actors looking for star-making parts in big commercial films. A new Warner Bros project now has the attention of actor reps: Jupiter Ascending, which I’m told will be the next film by Lana and Andy Wachowski, and their first major science fiction action franchise play since The Matrix. Like that trilogy, Jupiter Ascending is an original creation by the duo, and it’s on track to start production by the spring. The studio is now discussing which A-list star to lead the cast while keeping the script and logline under tight wraps.
The Wachowskis are currently among the directors shooting interconnected segments of Cloud Atlas with a cast that includes Tom Hanks, Jim Sturgess and Hugh Grant. They had circulated to financiers a script last spring for a hard R drama they wanted to direct about a gay relationship between a U.S. soldier and an Iraqi, but I understand they had trouble setting it up. Before Cloud Atlas, the siblings hadn’t directed a film since the 2008 misfire Speed Racer. Still, nobody forgets about their last original creation, the groundbreaking Maxtix trilogy, and the $1.6 billion worldwide gross turned in by the three films. So all eyes will be on Jupiter Ascending as it gets off the ground. It’s also worth remembering how the reps of Keanu Reeves smartly made a deal for two Matrix sequels that called for $30 million against 15% of first dollar gross. Reeves burned through that advance on the first of those two films, and got 15% of first dollar gross on a final film that grossed $427 million worldwide. My recollection is that Reeves earned between $100 million and $200 million, and closer to the latter figure for the trilogy. Those were the days!